There are different tracks year round school can abide by, such as single or multi-track. Single track is more common and leads to a smoother transition. Multi-track has different schedules and breaks for students of various tracks throughout the school year. Complications and benefits arise from these methods.
The most common objection to a shift from traditional to year-round schooling comes from families with children who would be assigned to different schedules. Most year-round schools are elementary schools; a few are middle schools; and a miniscule number are high schools. Many high schools have not converted to year round, particularly to the multi-track year round, because of scheduling problems extracurricular activities such as sports, music, and drama. These difficulties include students on intersession having to attend practices and events. Also, most sporting events involve coordination with schools in other districts; the traditional calendar offers the easiest coordination.
While planning vacations and after school child care, year round school systems have made these matters more difficult to deal with. However, schools can be educating the poorer population and at a higher capacity than traditional schools. These affects are both troubling and beneficial. When it comes down to it, year round school is not for everyone.
Teachers also need to prepare for the fact that year-round schedules can conflict with family life, especially those who do not live in the district where they teach. Teachers’ children could end up on a completely different schedule, making vacations difficult to plan. Teachers also need to make sure daycare providers will be available and figure out who will look after their children who will be at home while the teachers are at work.
While noting that the lack of a standard school calendar — even within the same state — poses a major challenge to the leisure travel industry in responding to the changes, McCleary and Peercy said the industry “cannot afford to ignore the fact that year-round school families are taking a greater number of shorter vacations during school breaks, especially during fall and spring.” Developing and marketing 2-3-day vacation packages, for example, might be one way the industry can benefit.
The increasing popularity of year-round school has been attributed to several factors, including a desire to raise educational standards and the need to ease classroom overcrowding, McCleary and Peercy wrote. “When year-round school is implemented, its impact on leisure travel is felt when it comes to who goes on a family vacation, when and where families take vacations, and the length of the vacation.”
While a year-round school calendar invokes thoughts of very short vacations or no breaks at all, this is not the case. Year-round school is based on a yearly calendar that consists of a rearrangement of the typical school calendar. Typically, students will go to school in September with time off in November when they have their Thanksgiving recess. They then again have a vacation in December for the winter recess, which will last until after the first of the New Year. Students will continue at school until a spring recess break, and then a couple of more holidays and days off for parent-teacher meetings. By early or mid June, students will begin their summer vacation, which will generally last until late August or early September.
The problem with year-round schools may be that they don't actually add more school days to the 180 typically required, von Hippel said. Instead of a three-month summer vacation, year-round schools typically have several breaks of three to four weeks spread throughout the year. The total number of school days and vacation days remains unchanged, but they are distributed more evenly over the calendar.
Multi-track schedules, meanwhile, are typically used by school systems that are short on classroom space. In this calendar, the school population is divided into four or five tracks. Typically, three of the tracks are in school while the fourth is on vacation. When that track returns from vacation, one of the other tracks takes its break. This system allows districts to increase their seating capacity without constructing more buildings.
Nearly all of the year-round schools were in urban and suburban areas, and most were in the West. Children attending year-round schools were mostly Hispanic and tended to be somewhat poorer than average, but their poverty was moderate rather than severe. Year-round schools also tended to have problems with overcrowding. In fact, year-round schedules are often adopted to cope with crowding. By staggering students' schedules, year-round schools can arrange for some students to be in session when others are on vacation; in this way, schools can accommodate more students than they could on a traditional nine-month calendar.
Particularly, older students tend to take advantage the summer period to take additional college courses or get a job to earn much-needed money. One potential compromise to the idea of having year round education could be the implementation of it at the lower elementary levels more, given statistical evidence that a child’s earlier years are crucial for education development.
The National Education Commission on Time and Learning advocates the year-round schedule as the best solution for overcoming the phenomenon known as summer learning loss, according to School Calendar Reform, Learning in All Seasons (Rowland and Littlefield Education, 2006). Research indicates that all students lose a significant amount of factual and procedural information over the protracted summer vacation: approximately 2.6 months of grade-level equivalency in mathematics for all students, and nearly 3 months of grade-level equivalency in reading for low-income students. The cumulative effect is a widening achievement gap between high to middle income students and low income students, states research by the center for summer learning at John Hopkins University School of Education.